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Peggy L. Ferguson, Ph.D.Licensed Marriage/Family TherapistLicensed Alcohol/Drug Counselor405-707-9600/ peggyferguson@peggyferguson.com

Communication Articles

Peggy L. Ferguson, Ph.D.
Licensed Marriage/Family Therapist
Licensed Alcohol/Drug Counselor

The Honey Jar
A Conversation starter for couples.

by Peggy L. Ferguson Ph.D., LADC, LMFT
The "Honey Jar" is a conversation starter for couples.
It consists of 250 sentence stems, each one
serving as an open-ended prompt to discuss
one of a number of individual or couple subjects.
While it is designed to assist couples that have
been in the marriage for a long time and who
seem to have run out of things to talk about.,
it has been found to be very helpful to couples
at any stage of their committed relationship.
PDF File format. $19.95

Add to Cart
You Do Not Need A PayPal Account to Purchase the Honey Jar
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Articles on Couple Communication by Peggy L. Ferguson, Ph.D.

To access the articles, just click on the title of the article. It will open in a separate word document that can be saved to your computer and/or printed off.  All articles are copyrighted.  We welcome you to use them for your own information and to share them with others as long as you cite my authorship, provide website information/link, and do not edit them.


Table of Contents

New:  Negative Patterns Undermine Emotional Closeness in a Marriage

New:  Explanations of Partner Behavior Makes All The Difference in Marital Happiness

New:  Explanation of Partner Behavior Worksheet

New: "Those Pesky Filters!" 

New:  The Excuses Worksheet

Using a Road Trip To Strengthen Couple Communication:Using the Honey Jar Conversation Starter To Improve Your Relationship

New: Guidelines For Couples Feelings Meetings

New:  What You Don't Know About Communicatio Can Kill Your Marriage

Setting the Stage for Effective Communication With Your Loved On

Setting Aside Time and Energy For Your MarriageCan Repair the Emotional Erosion

How to De-Escalate An Argument

How To De-escalate An Argument When You Can't De-escalate

Fair Fight Tactics (Refrigerator List)

The Dirty Fight Tactics Worksheet

Using Cognitive Therapy to Change Your Marriage

Moving Beyond Deadlock:
Making Sure You Are Talking About The Same Thing

Learning to Identify Feelings As a First Step in Communicating Them

Communication:  Setting the Stage for Effective Communication With Your Loved Ones

Using "I" Messages to Get Your Point Across and Be Heard   
Learning to Listen Well for Good Relationship Skills     
Ten Dirty Fight Tactics to Avoid

Ten Steps to Fair Fighting    
Twelve Guidelines for Family Feelings Meetings  

Improving Your Relationship By Setting Aside Special Communication Time

Improving Marital Happiness Through Quality Time Together and Communication Skills

The Honey Jar As A Starting Point To Improve Your Communication
Improving Your Listening Abilities to Boost Your Communication Skills

Peggy's Note:  Additional Communication articles can be found on my marriage site at




Explanations of Partner Behavior Makes All the

Difference in Marital Happiness

By Peggy L. Ferguson, Ph.D. 

If you want to improve your marital communication and the emotional environment in your household, learn how to change how you explain your partner's behavior.  You may need to challenge what you have previously thought in order to reframe, refocus, and forgive. 

Conflict is inevitable.  As any two individuals go about their daily business, if their lives intersect, it is inevitable that at some time they will come into conflict.  Simply "minding your own business" will at some point, bring you into conflict, as you go about meeting your needs and the other person goes about meeting his/her own needs. 

Hurt feelings, anger and resentment, fear, guilt, and other uncomfortable feelings are a part of being in a close, important relationship.  Conflicting needs lead us to feel hurt, angry, or fearful.  How we feel when we are in conflict, or when something happens that upsets, depends in large part, on the explanations that we develop about our partner's behavior. To read the rest of this article, follow this link:  Explanations of Partner Behavior Makes All The Difference in Marital Happiness



My Marriage/Your Marriage:Paradigm Mismatches of Marriage or 

 "Those Pesky Filters!" 

By Peggy L. Ferguson, Ph.D. 

A paradigm is a way of looking at things.  People typically do not know that they look at things in their own unique ways.  Unless something happens to get your attention, you may never question why you see things the way you do.  Most people use their own experiences as criteria to judge other people and the events occurring in their own lives and the lives of others.  Your "shoulds" come from your paradigms.

Two people who come into a marriage bring their own unique experiences to that marriage.  They each have their own unique ways of perceiving their own experiences and assigning meaning to it.  I call these unique ways of seeing the world as "filters".  Every person's perceptual "filters" will be unique based on your own experiences.  No two people will have had exactly the same life experiences.  Even if they did, they would still have unique filters, colored by their own personality characteristics, attitudes, and many other factors that go into assigning meaning to the events of our lives. 

Your filters color the intake of information in your life.  They are made up of your own experiences, beliefs, attitudes, mood states, emotions, and relationship events. Your own unique filters can have profound effects on the relationship events in your life.  When you assume that there is no other possible way to view the world, a situation, or a relationship, this sets the stage for many communication and relationship problems. To read the rest of the article, follow this link:  "Those Pesky Filters!" 


The Excuses Worksheet

By Peggy L. Ferguson, Ph.D.

A.  Identify your excuses for not spending more time with your spouse.  Write them down.  Identify how you and your spouse are complicit in maintaining the status quo. 

Categories of Excuses:

Time:  “We just don’t have the time because…”:

Kids:  “We have kids.  We can’t have alone time because…”:

Money:  “We can’t afford to have special time together because…”:

Individual awkwardness:  “I am uncomfortable spending time with you because…”:

Examples: “We don’t have anything in common”; “I don’t want to spend time with someone who will be criticizing me.”; “We don’t have anything to talk about.”; “I’m afraid if we spend more time together we will discover that we don’t want to be together and will get a divorce.”  

B.  Identify how you and your spouse are complicit in maintaining the status quo.  Go back through your lists above and identify the ones that your partner reinforces in some way.  They may be the same excuses used by your partner or they may be excuses that your partner believes to be “real reasons” why it is difficult to carve out time together.  Put a checkmark by those on your lists above.

C.  Now go back and identify the items that are actual roadblocks or problems to be solved.  At this point it does not matter whether you believe that you can solve it.  Just identify the circumstances/conditions/items that are really in the way of being able to spend more time together. 

D.  Take this worksheet back to your counselor for assistance with problem solving on those barriers.  A basic Problem Solving Model (See Fair Fight Tactics  ) can be used to eliminate the impediments to spending more time together.  To read the rest of this article follow this link: The Excuses Worksheet 

Guidelines for Couples Feelings Meetings

By Peggy L. Ferguson, Ph.D. 



How to Establish A Routine of Couple's Feelings Meetings

·        Hold feelings meetings daily.

·        Schedule couple's feelings meetings as the same time of day, so that it becomes routine and a normal part of your daily schedule.

·        Pick a time that you won't be interrupted (e.g. kids are in bed).

·        Feelings meetings should be about 30 minutes long.

·        Turn off all the electronics--TV, ipad, phones, computer, etc.
To read the rest of this article, follow this link
: Guidelines For Couples Feelings Meetings




Using a Road Trip To Strengthen Couple Communication:

Using the Honey Jar Conversation Starter To Improve Your Relationship 

By Peggy L. Ferguson, Ph.D.

One more excursion before the kids start back to school.  Maybe you had planned to devote more of your time and energy to each other this summer, and as usual, time just got away from you.  Perhaps you have decided that there is still time to get started on that goal and are planning one last road trip together--without the kids.  A road trip with a couples communication exercise may be just the ticket to jump start the closeness in your relationship.

After you have been married awhile and you have heard all of each other's stories, it feels like you don't have anything to talk about that does not involve work or the kids.  It may even seem like you are so wrapped up in day to day living that you are boring to each other. With all that is going on, the communication and conversation just seems to taper off.   

When that happens, it is harder to be able to assess where you stand in your most important relationship.  You may be able to deal with logistical issues that arise, but maybe you just don't feel as close as you want to. 

Communication is essential for two people to feel closeness and to maintain that closeness over time.  Without it, you may be just guessing about what your partner is thinking and feeling.  Some of the guesses may be considerably worse than reality.  communication, each partner may be constantly making faulty interpretations of the other's behavior.  There is plenty of room for confusion when there is no communication.  Confusion about the other person's motives, intentions, and actual behavior causes a tremendous amount of conflict and distress in relationships.  Even if you are not in a lot of conflict, you might just miss your partner.  To read the rest of the article, follow this link: 
Using a Road Trip To Strengthen Couple Communication:Using the Honey Jar Conversation Starter To Improve Your Relationship

Predicting Your Own Divorce:
Why You Should Never Use the D-Word

By Peggy L. Ferguson, Ph.D.

If you want to give your marriage a chance to recover from whatever is bothering you at the moment, don't use the D-word. Don't say, "I want a divorce" in the heat of an argument. Don't use it as a punishment, a threat, a dirty fight tactic, or as a joke. When you do, you are setting the stage for that very thing to come true. To read the rest of this article, follow this link: Predicting Your Own Divorce: Why You Should Never Use the D-Word



I messages  identifying feelings effective listening Communication Barriers  improving listening skills improve marital happiness cognitive therapy for marriage Dealing With Feelings Marital Communication  Couple Communication Fair Fight Rules  Dirty Fight Tactics Family Feelings Meetings  Excuses Worksheet Effective Communication Skills  Communication  Couple communication skills  Communicating  Active Listening How to Improve Listening Skills Lack of Communication in Marriage  Communication Problems  Communication Articles



My ebooks and other informational/educational products are available
for purchase on my Services Provided page.

Copyright: Peggy L. Ferguson, Ph.D., 116 W. 7th, Suite 211, Stillwater, OK 74074, phone 405-707-9600, fax 405-707-9601, email peggyferguson@hotmail.com, http://www.peggyferguson..com


Serving Stillwater (74074, 74075, 74076), Perry (73077), Perkins (74059), Cushing (74023), Pawnee (74058), Guthrie (73044), Ponca City (74601, 74602, 74604), Morrison (73061), and other local communities.

Providing services for Alcoholism, Drug Addiction, Chemical Dependency, Sex Addiction, Mental Health Issues, Depression, Anxiety, Stress Management, Addiction Recovery, Drug Abuse, Spouse of sex addict, Relapse prevention, Drug cravings, Family Business Issues, Couple Money Issues, Co-dependency, Adult Children of Alcoholism Issues, Cross-addiction, Co-occurring disorders, marital family therapy, marriage family counseling, step-parenting, step-family issues, couple money issues, grief, mid-life issues, infidelity.  Providing individual, group, marriage, family, and couples sessions.  Providing professional supervision and training and consultation services.






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